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Mediterranean Salmon Balls


We adapted this delicious recipe from one in The Washington Post, whose editors adapted it from I Love Meatballs! by Rick Rodgers (Andrews McMeel, 2011).
 
The Post version calls for grilling the salmon balls, but you could broil them to equally tasty effect.
 
They taste great served alongside tabouli or veggies and pilaf, or in pita pockets with greens, cucumber, and diced tomatoes.
 
Rather than the anchovy-based sauce used by the Post, we suggest serving the salmon balls with a Greek-style tzatziki sauce, for which we provide a recipe.
 
If you want to grill the balls, place them in a grill basket (screen-type or with small holes). To broil, use an oiled cookie sheet or a broiler pan with a slotted, oiled top.
 
If you serve them on a plate, we suggest serving them with tabouli or cooked vegetablessuch as sautéed or grilled zucchini, green beans, onions and pepperand rice pilaf or cous cous.
 
If you serve them in pita pockets, provide chopped cucumber and tomato for people to add at will.
 

Mediterranean Salmon Balls
Note: make the sauce first and allow it to chill before starting the salmon balls, so that the balls will still be hot-to-warm when you serve them.

Makes 4 servings
 
Tzatziki sauce
2 (8 ounce) containers plain yogurt
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill OR mint
3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • In a food processor or blender, combine yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill or mint, and garlic. Process until well combined.
  • Transfer to a dish, cover, and refrigerate for one hour for best flavor… one half-hour is okay if you're rushed.
Salmon balls
2 scallion stalks
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1-1/2 pounds (four 6 oz portions) skinless-boneless wild salmon
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise (do not use nonfat)
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Trim off and discard the root ends and dark-green parts of the scallions.
  • Cut the salmon into chunks and place in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the scallions, panko, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper; pulse just enough to blend with the salmon. Refrigerate (in the covered food processor bowl, minus the blade) for 15 minutes.
  • Use clean, dampened hands to form 12 meatballs of equal size (3 per person).
To grill:
  • Prepare the grill* for direct heat.
  • Place the balls in the oiled grill basket and place the basket on the grill grate; close the grill lid and cook for 3 minutes, so the undersides of the salmon meatballs brown lightly in spots. Then turn over the meatball basket or use 2 forks to turn over the meatballs in the basket or screen. Cook for 3 minutes or until the salmon is barely cooked through.
  • Transfer to a platter and cover to keep warm.
*If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the hardwood charcoal or briquettes; when the charcoal is ready, distribute it evenly under the cooking area. You should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 to 5 seconds. Keep a spray water bottle ready for damping flames.
 
To broil:
  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Place the balls under the broiler element or flame, on an oiled cookie sheet or on an oiled, two-part broiler pan with a slotted top. Cook for 3 minutes, so the tops of the salmon meatballs brown lightly. Turn the balls over and cook for 3 minutes or until the salmon is barely cooked through.
  • Transfer to a platter and cover to keep warm.
Serve on plates with the sauce on the side, or in warm pita pockets with the sauce and chopped salad greens, cucumber and tomato on the side for people to add at will.
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